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Groundings (2): Spaces of Slavery, Places of Freedom?

Class slides


- What is the “African diaspora?” What different approaches have scholars taken to defining it? Does it look different from different places?

-How can studying how people in the past used space help us address some of the archival silences described by Fuentes?

- What's the difference between a "space" and a "place"?

Readings: please choose TWO:


Mann, Kristin. “Shifting Paradigms in the Study of the African Diaspora and of Atlantic History and Culture,” in Rethinking the African Diaspora, eds. Kristin Mann and Edna G. Bay (London: Frank Cass, 2001), pp. 3-21. [on library scans page]

Spaces and places of enslavement and freedom:

Dale Tomich, Reconstructing the Landscapes of Slavery: A Visual History of the Plantation in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World[this is a fantastic collection as a starting point for visual 'master narratives' created by enslavers in Brazil, Cuba and the US South. You don't have to use it to talk only about planter viewpoints. It can be a good jumping-off point to talk about the enslaved people who are rendered invisible by these depictions but nonetheless were there, seeking their own definitions of these spaces.]

Marisa Fuentes, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive. Chapter 1: Jane: Fugitivity, Space, and Structures of Control in Bridgetown [and the intro if you are interested / have time]

Singleton, Theresa A. “Slavery and Spatial Dialectics on Cuban Coffee Plantations.” World Archaeology, 33:1 (June 2001): 98-114.

Further reading:

Diaspora and Atlantic communities:

Patterson, Tiffany Ruby, and Robin D. G. Kelly. “Unfinished Migrations: Reflections on the African Diaspora and the Making of the Modern World.” African Studies Review, 43:1 (April 2000): 11-45.

Law, Robin, and Kristin Mann, “West Africa in the Atlantic Community: the Case of the Slave Coast.” William & Mary Quarterly, 56:2 (April 1999): 307-334.

Space and slavery:

Theresa Singleton, Slavery Behind the Wall: An Archaeology of a Cuban Coffee Plantation (2015) [develops her 2001 article - is fascinating for spatial history approach]

Tezanos Toral, Lorena. "The Architecture of Nineteenth-Century Sugar Mills: Creole Power and African Resistance in Late Colonial Cuba." PhD diss, CUNY, 2015.

J.G. Cantero and E. La Plante, Los ingenios de Cuba: coleccion de vistas de los principales ingenios de azucar de la isla de Cuba 1857. [free e-book - it's in Spanish but it's mainly interesting for the PLANTATION IMAGES (lithographs) which present a 'master narrative' of slaveholding spaces - you can do a lot with this source without the actual text]

Aisha K. Finch, Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-44UNC Press 2015. [has great chapters on space and on gender, which we'll read later in the course]

Theory and methods for spatial history of slavery, beyond Brazil and Cuba:

Stephanie Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. UNC 2004. [This book has become a fundamental reference for social and gender historians of slavery taking spatial approaches, beyond the US South which is its focus. Approachable and very much recommended!]

McKittrick, Katherine. Demonic Grounds: Black Women and Cartographies of Struggle (University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

James A. Delle, An Archaeology of Social Space: Analysing Coffee Plantations in Jamaica's Blue Mountains (1998) [a classic reference on architectural and spatial approaches for the Jamaican case]

Mathew Edney, "Mapping Empires, Mapping Bodies: Reflections on the Use and Abuse of Cartography," Treballs, de la Societat Catalana de Geografi, 63 (2007): 83-104.

For the above article, and other useful references on mapping practices for a different context (the British Atlantic), see Tim Lockley's second-year course: "Mapping England's Atlantic Empire," HI2E3